FÁS cleared of Prime Time allegations — members now seek an apology

An investigation called for by the Public Accounts Committee and the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment into the workings of community schemes in Castlebar has found no wrongdoing on the part of FÁS.

The investigation was initiated in response to questions raised by Prime Time concerning three organisations operating in Castlebar which provided essential services of a social nature to the elderly, the underprivileged, and disabled persons.

The Prime Time report, which aired in February, claimed that there was a duplication of services and funding arising out of a number of FÁS and other parish schemes with a figure of €2.5 million mentioned.

Following the completion of the investigation a letter was forwarded to the Prime Time investigator, Mike Milotte, on June 4 2009 telling him that FÁS had carried out a review of the schemes and “no evidence of duplication of either services or funding, during the period 2001-2008 was found”. While the investigation did find some minor issues that need to be rectified, these issues are currently being addressed.

A similar letter was sent to PJ Nally, chairman of the Castlebar Social Services, the man whose allegations led to the Prime Time documentary being made, in which he was told: “FÁS is satisfied that this CE Scheme is being grant aided for the benefit of the local community and is providing/supporting essential services of a social nature to various clients, eg, the elderly, underprivileged, and disabled persons.”

Mr Nally was also told that the investigation uncovered no evidence of his allegations of criminal or fraudulent intent on the part of these schemes. However, Mr Nally was advised that if there is any evidence of such activities the matter should be reported to the local gardaí for investigation.

Through his solicitors Mr Nally replied to the Public Accounts Committee chairman Deputy Bernard Allen in which he accused him of acting as an “uncritical conduit and passed our letter and copy [of] Prime Time programme to FÁS itself for the purpose of having it investigated.” Mr Nally asked: “Who guards the guards?”

FÁS supervisors in Castlebar now feel they have been completely exonerated and are calling for an apology to themselves and, more importantly, to the family of the late Canon Paddy Curran who has been cleared of any wrongdoing by An Garda Síochána. The gardaí wrote to a brother of Canon Curran’s on April 6 of this year saying that a full and comprehensive investigation was conducted to try to establish any wrongdoing by any person arising out of allegations made by PJ Nally. The letter continued: “The full investigation file was submitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on the 29th of April 2007. On the 13th of July 2007 directions were received to the effect that there was no evidence to substantiate any charge against your brother.”

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